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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Exclusive Interview with M-1 President & CEO Monte Cox

Today I spoke briefly with Monte Cox, President & CEO of M-1 Global. While we were short on time, I was able to get answers to a few important issues involving the future of M-1, Fedor, possible co-promoting with other promotions, and a few other topics. Enjoy.

Brandon Brigham: Monte, how have you been lately?

Monte Cox: It's a fun time... very busy, but fun.

Brandon Brigham: I could only imagine, must be like a dream come true, right?

Monte Cox: Well, I don't know about a dream... but this is something I wanted to do before I leave MMA... run a major promotion.

Brandon Brigham: Well, it looks like you finally got your chance. How critical was it for you to work for the promotion that ultimately, landed Fedor?

Monte Cox: I was looking for a promotion that had something other promotions didn't... I wasn't sure what that was at the time, but I knew I didn't want to just sign up a bunch of fighters and start doing shows like everybody else... getting the top fighter in the world gave us something special, something to work around.

Brandon Brigham: I don't think there are many people that could disagree with that.

Brandon Brigham: Well, let's get right into it.

Brandon Brigham: Fedor will be fighting Hong Man Choi on New Years Eve in Tokyo, Japan. What are your thoughts on this match up and what do you have to say to the fans that have been critical over Fedor's previous opponents and now, Hong Man Choi?

Monte Cox: There are a lot of politics and issues when you do fights in Japan. We are trying to get all the Japanese organizations to work together and we needed the opponent for Fedor to be from K-1... we looked at the Grand Prix and Choi was the only guy excited to do the fight... it will be a big deal in Japan and Korea... and that was the major concern... not how U.S. fans felt about it.

Brandon Brigham: So, to those fans that have been critical, what would you tell them? Can we look forward to Fedor fighting perhaps Josh Barnett or maybe someone like Antonio Silva in the near future?

Monte Cox: I would tell the fans to be patient... we've been an organization for like 10 weeks and are working hard to get things in order. We don't want to be buried in debt right off the bat like others have been... we want to be around for a long time.

Brandon Brigham: That's definitely a great goal to have. Definitely don't want to turn out like the WFA.

Monte Cox: I think you have to learn from other people's mistakes... I'm trying to do that.

Brandon Brigham: Speaking of mistakes, let's talk about the story that came out recently that the UFC had turned down an offer from you guys, M-1, to put on the fight between Randy Couture and Fedor. Is there any truth to that report and if so, what do you think was the reason the UFC refused to put on the so called "Dream Match"?

Monte Cox: All I know is that I sent an email to Dana White and Joe Silva, saying we would be interested in putting a Fedor-Randy fight together ... and asking if there was any interest... I didn't get a reply. As far as why they didn't choose to move on the offer... I don't know. I'm sure they have their reasons.

Brandon Brigham: It makes the fans pretty upset to hear something like that. With promotions like M-1, HDNet Fights, Elite XC, and Strikeforce all saying they are willing to Co-Promote with other organizations, it makes you wonder why the UFC wouldn't be open to something like that.

Brandon Brigham: At the last HDNet fights, Randy Couture stated that he would be able to fight Fedor in October of 2008. Have their been any talks between M-1 and Randy about the proposed fight with Fedor?

Monte Cox: No... you know, I hear all the stuff, but there is going to be a lot of legal battling between Randy and the UFC before this gets settled. I'm in the wait and see mode right now... if he becomes available, and wants to do the fight, I'd be crazy not to pursue it.

Brandon Brigham: That's what I like to hear. Many fans are afraid that this fight will never happen. It's too bad that the UFC seems too caught up in their own success instead of giving the fans what they want.

Brandon Brigham: Can you elaborate on the first M-1 card, when that might be, and if you have pursued any talent to be on the card?

Monte Cox: Right now, we are working hard on landing a TV deal or a TV partner... that's the most important thing on our plate. Once we get that done, I'll start picking out the date and venue of the first card and who will fight on it.

Brandon Brigham: How is the hunt for a TV deal coming? Anything that you could tell the fans?

Monte Cox: We've talked to about everybody there is to talk to... from networks to HBO to HDNet... we're working on some deals that hopefully we'll be able to announce in a couple weeks.

Brandon Brigham: Have you been in any talks with other organizations to possibly co-promote with? With the involvement of Mark Cuban now in MMA, it would seem that M-1 and Mark Cuban could possibly make a splash if they could work together. has their been any talks between the 2 parties?

Monte Cox: We've talked with a lot of other organizations, including Cuban's group... we've gotten a lot of interest and we're interested in working with everybody. Right now, we're trying to see which group is the best fit for what we're trying to do.

Brandon Brigham: And I would assume what you're trying to do it become one of the major players in the MMA world, correct?

Monte Cox: Right now, my goal is to have a good show that is profitable. Of course, we want to put on the best show we can... but we're going to walk before we run.

Brandon Brigham: The whole MMA World seems to be wondering what is going on with Josh Barnett. Has M-1 been in contact with Josh at all and if so, how have those talks been going?

Monte Cox: I contacted Josh shortly after I got the job with M-1 Global and never got a call from his manager. I keep hearing he is going to sign with Elite, but I'm not sure what he is doing.

Brandon Brigham: I don't think anyone does. Well, we know that if he's with anyone but the UFC, it seems like there is always an opening for a fight with another promotion as long as it works out for both sides.

Brandon Brigham: So, I guess there is still hope for the Josh Barnett vs. Fedor fight after all, even if Josh goes to Elite.

Monte Cox: Sure... provided we can work something out between the two organizations. I get along very well with Elite.

Brandon Brigham: Perfect. Well Monte, thank you for your time tonight. Is there anything you would like to tell the people before we let you go?

Monte Cox: Just that UFC wasn't built in a few months and that we are going to need time to build up to that level. Hopefully, we'll put on some exciting fights along the way and develop a great following.

Brandon Brigham: Well, I think you guys made quite the first step in landing the best heavyweight in the world. Thank you very much for your time Monte and we'll be talking to you again soon.